Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Krauthammer, Global Warming, and "The New Socialism."

I usually stay away from Charles Krauthammer's columns, finding them often the skilled work of a spoiled child who wants more chocolate and has refused the fact that the colorful box is empty - because he's eaten them all.

But his December 11 column make unfounded claims that can't be ignored; his display of willful ignorance regarding international politics, empty phrases like "socialism," denial of global warming, and blatant adherence to disproven policies (and historical analysis) is an enormous disservice, via syndication, to a nation that is once again trying to find its way in the world with conscience.

Before I get to the krapola he asserts, I think it's worth noting that Krauthammer is from another era, like the sweet old lady who still uses the word "gay" to mean happy and romanticizes, for instance, a time when society was moral and just. The world has gone to heck, he asserts. People just aren't good and honest - like Thatcher and Reagan - any more. No matter than they never were; no matter that ideologies the individual adheres to have been disproven by time and history.

Krauthammer represents the Cato Institute ideologues of the 1980s and 90s. Though they still spew out their dated concepts in a contrived "fresh" fashion, their simplistic positions are obsolete, disproven and meaningless in a world that has proven to be more complicated than the one they want(ed) it to be. Quoting Ayn Rand is not even quaint any more; it is self-deceptive, and destructive at that.

Because Krauthammer is, in this latest blinder, discussing what one could call world entitlements, let me quote a hideous article from the Cato in 1998 by David Kelley. I think it demonstrates what I'm getting at:

...human beings have only recently, in certain parts of the world, taken definite actions to create wealth. Against the backdrop of millennia of human history, it is wealth that stands out and calls for explanation. Poverty is simply the absence of wealth. It is the natural human condition, which persists in the absence of efforts to overcome it.

Kelley asserts that the West has essentially won the wealth race because those in the developing world have been lazy, coddled, become accustomed to hand outs. And like others on the deluded Right, unwilling to acknowledge the privilege from which he makes this observation. Now hear Krauthammer:

The idea of essentially taxing hard-working citizens of the democracies in order to fill the treasuries of Third World kleptocracies went nowhere, thanks mainly to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (and the debt crisis of the early '80s). They put a stake through the enterprise.

But such dreams never die. The raid on the Western treasuries is on again, but today with a new rationale to fit current ideological fashion. With socialism dead, the gigantic heist is now proposed as a sacred service of the newest religion: environmentalism.

That environmentalism is a ruse (a religion) to suck as much wealth out of the West as possible, "the new Socialism," is a new Right saw. It denies the existence of damaging climate change and ignores why that change has come about. It demonizes non-Western countries for being subject to Western excess - essentially blaming the victims. Statistically, the West continues to suck resources out of undeveloped countries (uh, that was the purpose of colonialism, constructed by empires and now maintained by corporations) and gives back pollution, paternalistic dictates, guns for more violence, and ignorance.

"Third world kleptocracies" indeed have worked to capitalize on Western aid - and why not? Often non-relief aid is offered in ways that are benign and meaningless to populations ravaged by war, corrupt governments, and monopolization. What incentive does a dictator have to educate his population, to manage incoming aid, to develop "wealth-creating" industry, or to distribute wealth (beyond the vote-culling goat now and then) when money flows in and keeps him fat?

And because of the corrupting effects of capitalism, his subjected people admire the accumulated wealth at their expense. Oh he has two Mercedes Benz, he has been so smart to get so much from the West. He's a big, rich man who deserves his wealth.

The West has pursued and instated dictators for its own purposes - easy control, access of industry, even "insurance" against the spread of communism, markets for second rate products and other regulated items like weapons - with little consideration for the rights of citizens. Instead of blaming foreign policy for the poverty and lack of development in these countries, Krauthammer ignores their modern history and the West's role in it.

He's an egregious mouth-piece for the excesses, privilege, and discriminatory paternalism that have guided Western foreign policy for more than two centuries. Arguing that some cultures contribute more to world society - nee, our Western society - is to see the world from a shoe box, having never moved out into it. Unfortunately, Krauthammer speaks to an audience that as well is susceptible to such rantings. As the national economic crisis squeezes more Americans and encourages them to look for a bogeyman, "the other" has always been a good target. Isolationism has been proven a disaster, but it continues to rebound. The "free-market" has delivered none of it's promises and, without necessary regulation, has proven a perpetrator on individual freedom and wealth both here and abroad, yet some still scream for deregulation. And socialism, as Krauthammer uses the term, stands for communism; yes a failed system but as performed, never socialistic in any way.

I'm actually surprised that he continues to get leverage for the Socialism claims any more. As he uses the term, it never existed. As the EU enacts the term, it has proven a superior form of raising quality of life for even "the least of" citizens. Application of the term to both Communism and, say, Medicaid, is a stretch beyond understanding. But socialism is an old straw man for the myopic Right, bound to get a rise out of those who don't know better.

In short, the governing structures that Krauthammer hangs the flaccid skin of his rant on are hollow definitions, emotionally disturbing to those who don't know better and are under economic constraints, looking for a source of blame.

This column is an excessive example of irresponsibility. Ignore the horrors and damaging legacies of colonialism (by both empire and industry); deny the watershed of facts about global change that will, of course, destroy first those living unprotected in developing countries; pretend that those dirty little countries have no influence on the global environment nor economy; forget the discriminatory role the West has played in installing and supporting corrupt governments around the world; and prey on the insecurities of challenged Americans.

It's a win, win, win, win argument, unless you wish to exert a proper and honest analysis of Western foreign policy and science. And that's, well, beyond Krauthammer's reinforced and small-minded objective. He's got a column to write and emotions to stir, facts be damned.

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